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I believe that the key to a successful fat loss plan is consistency, particularly with the food you eat. If your food doesn’t taste good, chances are you’ll crave the other options that could sabotage your efforts. Fat loss is a marathon. It doesn’t happen overnight. You need to find a system that works for you personally, and it has to be something you can do over a period of time.

The goal is to create a lifestyle change that is not temporary, but permanent. When you read a diet book that promises change but under extreme circumstances, you need to ask yourself whether or not you can do it long term. If not, you need to find something else.

Most of your fat loss is going to happen outside of the gym. I would be so bold as to say that the majority of it is going to happen in the kitchen. Finding foods that are healthy and delicious is how you are going to execute this plan of yours successfully until your reach your goal, or better yet, eat healthy forever.

One of my go-to healthy and delicious meals is oatmeal. When many people think of oatmeal their first thought is “boring.” That is why you need to spice it up a bit. Here’s my recipe to turn oatmeal from a boring meal into something you’ll want to eat every day.

½ cups oats

1 ½ cups of water

5 medium strawberries, sliced

1 tsp. cinnamon

10 almonds

Pour the oats and water into a pot and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling reduce heat to low and stir occasionally for 5 minutes. While this is happening slice your strawberries. Once the oats are ready pour them into a bowl, sprinkle your cinnamon on top, and add the strawberries and almonds. It’s really that easy.

You can honestly replace the strawberries for any berry, and the almonds for another nut. It’s up to you. Like I said, success is going to happen when you find a plan that works for you. The most anyone can do is make suggestions, and educate you on the foundation of building a food plan that is meant for fat loss.

Let me know what you think of this recipe if you try it, or what changes you make to better suit you.

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Photo Credit: www.ariix.com

Photo Credit: http://www.ariix.com

 

Cheat day: a designated day where one purposefully strays from their typical eating habits to devour endless amounts of delicious, naughty foods to satisfy physiological and psychological needs.

When it comes to fitness and nutrition, the idea of a cheat day has been a disputed topic among experts, practitioners, and internet trolls for many years. One of the first known mentioning of the approach can be traced back to 1999 where Bill Phillips encourages a “free day” in his book Body-For-LIFE. Over a decade later, Tim Ferriss suggests a similar idea in his best-selling bible The 4-Hour Body. Clearly this idea is sticking around.

Maybe you have heard distant ramblings of cheating on your diet from the dark corners of your gym’s locker room, or perhaps you read it in a respected book. You know it is good to cheat but you don’t know why. In order to better understand the art of cheat days it is better to step back and look at the core of reasoning behind it all: a hormone called leptin.

What the heck is leptin?

Leptin is “a protein hormone produced by fatty body tissue and believed to regulate fat storage.” Thank you, Google – but it is a little more than that.

Leptin is the reason why you see so many people drop a lot of weight at first and then struggle to get rid of those dreaded “last few pounds.” Its main function is to regulate hunger, food intake and energy expenditure and is produced in your fat cells. Therefore, the more fat you have on your body, the higher your baseline level of leptin is.

It also directly influences the production and secretion of hormones that regulate metabolism, such as thyroid hormones T3 and T4. A higher leptin level equals a higher T3 and T4 count, which allows for faster fat burn. On the flip-side, lower leptin equates to lower T3 and T4. That is why the more fat you have the faster you can lose it.

Another thing to keep in mind is that leptin levels are relative to your caloric intake. When you want to lose fat you need to create a caloric deficit. A caloric deficit means that your leptin levels will drop but that also means a drop in fat loss because of your lacking T3 and T4 hormones, so in return your fat loss goes from a sprint to a crawl. This creates a nutritional catch-22. Let’s recap:

You need to eat less to burn fat, but eating less produces less leptin. The less leptin you produce, the hungrier you become and the more likely you are to eat more than you should.

This can get extremely frustrating. Therefore it is necessary to make your goal revolve around keeping leptin levels elevated while restricting calories. Based on what you just read that might sound impossible, but it isn’t.

Enter, cheat day.

We’ve already established that leptin levels decrease while in a caloric deficit. It is the periodic “bump” in leptin that will help you avoid fat loss plateaus and lose fat faster by creating a caloric surplus (read: eating a crap ton) on your cheat day. This will create enough of a boost to prevent all the negative effects of low leptin levels from wrecking havoc on your body.

How often you cheat depends on your current diet and fitness level. The more restricted your calories are, the more often you will need to increase leptin levels. The same goes for those with a lower body fat percentage.

It has also been researched to take it all one step further and combine your feasts with intermittent fasting to experience the best of both worlds: enhanced metabolic hormonal output with increased growth hormone production. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

Incorporating cheat days into your approach has the physiological benefits outlined above, but it is also wise to consider the (not-so-solid) psychological benefits of removing dietary mental shackles with freedom and choice. Strategically eating what you want one day of the week and still reaping all the benefits of fat loss can be a great mental motivator.

What are your thoughts on cheat days? Do you cheat on your diet?

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Should You Eat Carbs?

April 5, 2013 — 1 Comment

Ah yes, carbs – the bane of everyone’s nutritional confusion. Probably the most sought after answer in all of nutritional science, even. I can put money on the fact that if everyone was given one question to ask a nutritionist it would somehow involve carbohydrate consumption. How much is too much? How much is too little? Should I eat carbohydrates at all!?

The answer will generally, like everything in the field, depend on what your situation is. It’s impossible to give one universal answer to every single carbohydrate question ever asked.

Should you eat carbs? Of course you should. Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients your body needs to function properly. How much you should eat, though, will mainly depend on your activity level.

Carbs are generally dense in calories, meaning it’s quite easy to rack up a total caloric count if you’re watching your intake. However, your body needs it for energy. Sounds like a catch-22 doesn’t it?

The basic idea to keep in mind is that the more active you are, the more energy you will need, and therefore more carbohydrates. If you eat a ton of carbs and lay around all day, your body starts to store the energy as fat. That’s when all the fun things develop like spare tires, and double chins.

You’ll hear a lot of nutritionists battling back and forth about eating carbs, and not eating carbs. It gets tricky when you start to know that your body can actually turn protein and fat into energy through physiological processes. That is why people don’t see a need for over consuming this “evil” macronutrient – which is fair.

So if you’re someone who doesn’t exercise a lot, or if you’re looking to lose fat, it may not hurt to reduce your carb consumption to produce. Vegetables are a great source of energy without tacking on too many calories.

Or, if you’re someone who is active pretty much every day, you may want to eat more breads, pastas, or other sources along with vegetables in order to keep your energy level up.

You can’t really say that carbohydrates are good or bad but just know that your body does need some in order to be healthy. It’s the type and amount that really matters. A healthy body is all about balance, so finding your balance between protein, fat, and carbohydrates is the ultimate key to mastering your nutrition.

What is your take on carbohydrate consumption?

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